Been a while.... Time for a report

#1
2018 has been extremely busy for me so far, and especially so the last couple of weeks. I have had so much stuff going on I just haven't got to fish a whole lot. I mean, I don't have it as bad as those Montana boys, as this was day number 19 on the water in 2018 by my count, but that's pretty low for me. I was in class the last week and a half to obtain my Coast Guard captain's license, and after passing the 4 required exams I was driving home thinking that I should celebrate by hitting the beach today. Well just as those thoughts were running through my head, my neighbor called me up. He's a gear fisherman, and a damn good one at that, but he's never fly fished. He surprised me by telling me the reason he'd called is that he wanted me to teach him to fly fish. He mentioned his wife was out of town for a couple of weeks so if I was going out at some point to let him know. Well I did let him know... I told him I was planning on going today! He quickly agreed so we made a plan to head out this morning.

I picked him up at 5 am this morning and after a quick coffee stop we were headed to an area 11 beach. Tide was good for this beach, and the wind was supposed to be manageable (At least when I checked last night). We got on the water just after first light, about an hour and a half before high tide. When we stepped foot on the beach it was clear that the north wind was blowing more than last night's forecast called for, probably 13-16 knots. Nothing too crazy, but tough for someone who was wanting to learn to fly cast.

After a few quick lessons and pointers I set Mike out on his own, and he did very well casting in the nasty conditions. It was clear he grasped the concepts very quickly, and just needed to spend time practicing. We fished a nice point for the first hour, expecting the water to set up as tide change neared, but it never really did. Mike was doing just fine on his own, so I worked my way down the beach a ways. I knew where a creek dumped in, and although this area is a bit hard to fish at high tide I also knew that there was a rocky flat right in front of the creek where I could wade out far enough to have some back casting room. I worked my way down, and as soon as I got on that flat I started seeing fish. A lot of fish. They were hanging out about a 60-80' cast kinda angled to my right, and first cast I caught a nice cutthroat. Second cast I caught a chunky rezzie. Third cast I caught another cutthroat.... At this point I was watching heads, both cutthroat and coho, coming clear out of the water as they were aggressively feeding near the surface. I didn't see any chum fry or bait fish of any sort, so my best guess is euphasids or something similar, but there was a lot of fish hanging in this one area.

I quickly called Mike and told him to get his butt down there, and kept catching fish. Mike showed up a few minutes later and I had him wade right out next to me so I could try to put him in position to cover those fish. I had Mike rigged up with a 6 wt rod with a 7 wt OBS intermediate line, hoping that over lining would help him feel the rod load a bit better as he learned, and had a Squimp on his line. I was fishing my Hardy Zenith 7 wt with a Hover line and a little olive/white bucktail and flash surf candy style fly I tied up last night. After Mike got situated it became apparent that he just wasn't going to be able to cast far enough to cover these fish. They just wouldn't move any closer. At first I thought maybe they weren't into the Squimp and were more baitfish oriented so I had him switch rods with me for a few casts so I could see if it was the fly, or the distance. Well I hooked 3 fish on three casts using his rod and the Squimp, so I quickly figured out it wasn't the fly. It was just a matter of distance.

Long story short we stood there for the next two hours or so and caught a LOT of fish. Well, I should say... I caught a lot of fish. Poor Mike caught none. He missed a couple grabs, but he just wasn't able to get the distance needed to get a fly in front of most of those fish. I offered several times to make some casts for him so he could at least catch one, but he wouldn't hear of it. Mike's a damn good fisherman, and is a master with herring off the beach, but he was determined to learn to fly cast and was not at all sweating the fact that I was catching fish after fish and he was catching zero. He was doing everything right, it was just a matter of distance today. I had hoped that as the tide dropped that I might be able to get him into better position, but no matter what the fish just stayed 60-80' out.

I caught a bunch of fish on the baitfish pattern, but I missed a LOT of coho with that longer fly, so after a while I switched over to a Squimp and continued to catch more fish. In the end I think I landed around 8 cutts, and a whole BUNCH of coho. I can't even begin to guess how many, but definitely more than I could count with both hands and feet. At one point I was messing around trying to take a picture of a fish and a wave came up and splashed just high enough to go right down my waders and soak me. It was damn cold this morning, being drenched coupled with the bitter went quickly turned me into a shivering mess. By around noon the tide had dropped quite a bit and the fish seemed to head elsewhere, so we decided to call it a day.

Mike never did land a fish, but he never once complained. He was super stoked to be learning how to fly cast, and when I dropped him off at his house I left him with a 6 wt setup to practice with. He's just the sort who will definitely get out there and practice, so I have a feeling he'll be able to reach better distance in no time. As it was he was consistently able to reach 40', which many days is plenty to catch fish, this was just not one of those days.

After a few weeks of zero fishing it was great to get out on the beach and harass some fish. All the fish caught were chunky with lots of fight, and the way these fish were feeding it probably wouldn't have mattered what fly I had tied on... It was simply a matter of putting a fly in front of them. I missed a ton of fish, and lost a bunch as well.... Not too surprising with coho! Not the sun up till sundown kind of affair I'd usually engage in, but it was a great time and a great way to blow off steam after a couple of stressful weeks. It was fun hanging out with my neighbor and getting to introduce him to fly fishing. He seemed to have a great time, and is anxious to practice up and get back out again soon.


Casting in some nasty conditions

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Bendo

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The two well chewed flies that accounted for all the action today


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Fish


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